When the economy took a nosedive, most sales professionals quickly responded in one of two ways. There were those who lost confidence and basically hunkered down, hoping to wait out the recession. They adopted a "base camp" mentality, wanting only to hold onto what business they had until the weather cleared, and they could start their ascent again. The second group, more optimistically, chose to forge on and actually grow their business, whatever it took. They continued their "climb to the summit," though with varying degrees of success. Even otherwise outstanding performers sometimes suffered setbacks. Now that the economy is showing signs of recovery-a recovery that could take years-both groups find that they have at least one thing in common. They will almost certainly be operating with fewer resources for some time to come. This is a challenge they need to confront and surmount. But for sales professionals who can make the proper adjustments, opportunities abound. It's time for "base campers" to break camp and join the "climbers" on the trek to the top. This is an exciting time, but the trek is going to be a tough one. Progress for most of us will be slow. It will be measured in increments, but it will be progress all the same. Here are three suggestions for adjusting to the new realities of operating with fewer resources. One way is to devise more effective ways to identify and qualify prospects. Another is to implement more efficient ways to develop opportunities and bring them to closure. A third is by strengthening existing customer relationships. These probably sound like little things but, as the old song says, "little things mean a lot." And that's never been more true than now. That's also why it is important to manage your expectations and set small but reachable goals. Let's say, for example, you could find just one thing that would improve your performance a mere 2 percent this month-like making one extra prospecting call per day, asking every client for a referral, or reconnecting with one former customer who has drifted away. These are not huge additions to your workday. They're very doable. And, applied consistently over time, they earn compound interest. You do the math: A 2 percent increase in performance and productivity each month yields an increase of some 27 percent in 12 months. That's 60 percent in two years and, in three years, 100 percent. Of course, adopting any such program takes desire, discipline and determination. This is especially true in the face of adversity, and we've all gotten a taste of adversity over the last year. But adversity is what separates those who enjoy the thrill of reaching the summit from those who pack up their tents and head back down the mountain-or stay in their base camps. The path-where there is one-will be steep and rocky, but the view from the top will be awe-inspiring
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